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14.05.13

New drive to integrate health and social care by 2018

Health and social care will be joined up by 2018, care and support minister Norman Lamb has announced.

The new plans for the NHS and local government are aimed at the provision of properly integrated services and at stopping patients ‘falling through the cracks’.

New ‘pioneer’ areas around the country will be named by September to look for innovative approaches to achieve change as quickly as possible. The plans also include defining what people say integration looks and feels like and creating new measures of people’s experience to track the impact of the changes.

Patients can suffer and miss out on the right support, appropriate information is not always shared between different areas of the health service and inadequate coordination can lead to long waiting times.

Organisations have signed up to the system-wide ‘Shared Commitment’, to outline how national resources will support local work, ensure tools are available to help, identify how information will be sued to enable integration and plan to accelerate learning across the system.

The commitment sets out how local areas should use existing structures like Health and Wellbeing Boards to bring together local authorities, NHS, social care providers, education, housing services, and public health.

Lamb said: “People don’t want health care or social care, they just want the best care. This is a vital step in creating a truly joined up system that puts people first.

“Unless we change the way we work, the NHS and care system is heading for a crisis.

This national commitment to working together is an important moment in ensuring we have a system which is fit for the future.”

Sir Merrick Cockell, chair of the Local Government Association, said: “As the providers of social care and now public health, councils have a key role to play in integrating services to both improve the quality of care and support that people receive and help find new ways of addressing the long-standing concerns around the future funding of care services.

“In order to achieve this we absolutely need to put real people of all ages, from children and young people to those with long term and multiple conditions, at the heart of everything we do. It is their voices and experiences that can help us create the person-centred services urgently needed to revolutionise care in this country.

“Health and Wellbeing Boards, as the core local decision makers across health and care, are crucial to this process and can provide a platform to ensure that public money is used effectively across the NHS and local government to tackle the wider health needs of our communities.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Image c. Steph Gray

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